The Snowpocalypse that Wasn’t (New York City, 2017)

Snow accumulation on Tuesday night, March 14 2017

Listening to the news last weekend and last Monday, it sounded like disaster was imminent. Schools were shut down, public transit was suspended, and people were encouraged to remain at home if at all possible to avoid the life-threatening storm that was going to hit Monday night and continue through Tuesday.

Like most of the news commentators mentioned, the storm didn’t quite turn out as expected. I think I was listening to NPR when I heard an announcer mention the actual snow totals in New York City. He then made the comment, “Do you know what we call that in Chicago? Tuesday.” I laughed, remembering how I’d gone out on Tuesday to grab a few odds and ends for making tacos. There was a good bit of snow and the sidewalks were slippery, but it wasn’t that serious.

Snow accumulation on 176th Street in the Bronx, New York City.
Snow accumulation on 176th Street in the Bronx, New York City.

The Bronx received more snow than anywhere else in the city at 8″ of accumulation. Watching from my living room window, I could see that the wind was pretty bad at times, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I kept thinking about the blizzard in January of 2015 as a point of reference. The oddest thing about the day was how quiet it was. There was very little traffic, there weren’t many pedestrians, and the few trains that passed our station went by slowly and quietly, with no announcements. My apartment overlooks a train line. After living here for a year, I don’t really notice the sound of the trains, but I noticed when the sound stopped.

January 2015 Blizzard in Washington Heights:

January 2015 Winter Storm Jonas - New York City Blizzard//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWednesday was probably worse than Tuesday. The snow had partially melted because of sleet and rain and had frozen overnight on the sidewalks. The corners, where the pedestrian crossings are, were huge puddles of slush. Hopefully, this will be the last snow we see this year. I’m ready for spring.

Winter Storm Jonas in Washington Heights, Manhattan, NYC

Facing South on Broadway at 168th Street

My wife and I went out walking around in Winter Storm Jonas for a while, just to see what the blizzard was doing to the city. The last time there was a storm like this, we stayed indoors and by the time we went out, there was nothing left but slush and those crappy puddles on the corners that you have to wade through to cross the street.

When we went out, the snow was still coming down really hard, but it was supposed to snow well into the night, so that wasn’t surprising. It was oddly quiet outside, besides the wind. There were more people out than we expected, but the neighborhood was mostly deserted. Even Starbucks was closed. We didn’t expect anything to be open. We just wanted to have a look around. I was pretty surprised to see a few stores open and some people trying to deliver food. Gristedes was open. It looked like Famiglia was open. I saw two guys come out carrying delivery bags. They ran to a car though and drove off so I’m not sure if they were trying to do a delivery or leave for the day. One of the guys was the franchise owner. I recognized him from when they were moving and renovating the store.

Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.
Delivery man pushing his bicycle through the snow.

There was a delivery guy trying to ride his bicycle through the snow in the road at 168th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, but he wasn’t really doing too well and gave up. I watched him get off his bike and then start pushing it through the snow. There were no snow plows on the roads keeping them clear, or if there were they weren’t doing the job well enough because of the rate of snow accumulation. I felt bad for the guy.

https://twitter.com/BradleyF81/status/691399208885207044

After we took some pictures we decided to go grab a few things from Gristedes. It was fun walking inside, covered in snow and I took some time to warm my hands by the rotisserie chicken display. When we left the store, we saw a dog sitting there in the snow, tied to the guard around the bottom of the tree. I was pretty concerned. The dog had a layer of snow on its fur and it was holding one paw up. The dog was obviously uncomfortable and didn’t want to stand in the snow. He was angry and barking. We couldn’t leave until we knew the dog was okay. Other people walking by kept commenting that they couldn’t believe someone left the dog like that. People inside Gristedes were looking out the window at the dog. A guy walked out of Gristedes and said he’d seen the dog sitting there when he went into the store about 10 minutes prior, so me and the guy went inside to look for the owner.

It’s too much, you know? Leaving a dog out there, tied up with snow falling on him. So, I went inside and yelled out, “Does anyone here own the dog that is tied to the tree outside? It’s been there for more than 10 minutes. That’s really inhumane! If you don’t get your dog I’m going to call the police!” When people realized a dog had been left outside in the blizzard, a few people started to comment angrily on the situation. No one acknowledged that they owned the dog, so I walked further back into the store and yelled, “If someone owns the dog that has been tied up to the tree outside for more than 10 minutes, you need to go get your dog and take him home. It’s inhumane to leave a dog outside in a blizzard and I’m going to call the police. Also, you’re an asshole!” Because really, you have to be an asshole to leave the dog tied up outside, exposed to weather conditions so severe. This was the second worst blizzard the city has ever had and the wind chill brought the temperature down to about 14° F.

While I was doing this, my wife and another woman untied the dog and brought him under the shelter of the canopy along the edge of the building. The dog was visibly relieved. By the time I got back outside, the owner had run out there to take the dog home. I hope she doesn’t do it again. I wonder if I should have just called the police and/or animal control anyway? What if this is normal for this person?

Anyhow, it was sort of a damper on the fun we were having, but we were glad we saved the dog from a bit of suffering he might have otherwise experienced if we had chosen not to go out, or not stop. We also enjoyed the adventure of walking around out in the blizzard. We were going to try to do our laundry today, but it just didn’t happen. I looked at the news about how the transit system wasn’t even up and running around noon today, so we just did some cleaning around the house and I’ll have to do the laundry tomorrow night after I get home from work. By then, shop owners should have salted the sidewalks and everything should be open. It would have been really disappointing to haul laundry through snow drifts to the laundromat only to find out it wasn’t open.

We never lost power or heat or any other service, so it was a pretty cozy, awesome kind of weekend, mostly holed up at home watching TV and staying warm. I have my snow boots ready for tomorrow.

January 2016 Winter Blizzard

Earlier, 6:55 PM:

So, we’re moving into a blizzard weekend. Two weeks of laundry to do, groceries to get. I thought we had until tomorrow afternoon, but now I’m checking the weather channel (online of course) and I see that we’re going to start getting snow around 11:30 PM here. Whiteout conditions, until sometime tomorrow. 24 hours of snow. 14 inches of blizzard apocalypse. Can a guy get laundry done during a blizzard? I wonder what things will be like on Sunday?

I have to prioritize food. I don’t want to rely on food deliveries that might be cancelled tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere either. Maybe we’ll just lay around and watch TV. That’s not so bad, as long as the heat stays on.

Now, 11:51 PM:

Going to the grocery store was like walking into madness. It looked like everyone in the neighborhood was jammed into Key Food on 172nd Street. We got there just in time to grab a jug of water. They ran out while we were in line. We figured it would be best to stock up, just in case a pipe broke and repairs couldn’t be done for a while. Mostly we just got regular food and some snacks. The lines snaked around to the back of the store and people were constantly squeezing past each other or bumping into each other. Something that we noticed was that no one was losing their temper or acting crazy, though. Everyone was pretty friendly, in fact. Camaraderie in suffering, I guess.

Anyway, we’re home now, relaxing, and ready.

A case of Stella Artois.
Stella Artois

Spring at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

90th Street Entrance to Central Park

After poking around in the Jewish museum for a few hours, my wife and I decided we should take advantage of the warm weather by walking across the park instead of taking the 96th Street bus. The park and the path around the reservoir in particular were packed with people jogging, walking, cycling and sitting out in the sun enjoying the fresh air. It feels like the winer has gone on forever. It feels like we haven’t stood at the edge of the reservoir taking photos for years, but I’m sure it was just last summer.

I feel sort of like a New Yorker now. I have a New York driver’s license. I’ve lived here for years. I just can’t get used to the cold weather, though. I’m glad the weather seems to be getting better. I can’t wait to start complaining about the heat in a few weeks!

Are We There Yet? When is Spring Coming?

This winter has been really long and unpleasant. Every time the snow on the ground is about to melt, we get hit with another snowstorm. This morning, I was excited that the weather was warming up. Today it got up to 54 (a heat wave!) and tomorrow it will be 53, but then I saw that next week the temperature is going to drop down close to freezing again.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=140556

I just wish we could get a good solid rainstorm to get rid of the snow and all the filth that’s covering everything. On all of the exposed concrete there is a layer of grime that looks almost like dirty, blended newspapers and mud. It’s most noticeable on the stairs leading down into the subway stations. It gets on everything.

If it has to be cold, can’t it at least be clean? Snow is only pretty for a few minutes in New York City.

The Beginning of New York City’s 2014 Snowpocalypse

Because we have a dog, we have plenty of opportunities to go out and experience the weather, even when we don’t particularly feel like it, like tonight, with wind and fairly heavy snow. I think this will be the last dog we own while we live in an apartment. It wouldn’t be bad if I could just open a door and let the dog out into the yard to handle his business, but owning a dog in New York City is time consuming. We walk him about three times a day and that eats up anywhere from an hour to an hour and 15 minutes per day.

Anyway, pet woes aside, the weather is nasty. Earlier today I was out shopping and I saw that someone had created a check-in on Foursquare called Snowpocalypse Winter 2013-2014. I don’t think it will be quite as bad as the snow cleanup fiasco in 2010, though. That was crazy. I even saw snow plows (or what passes for snow plows here, trash trucks with plow blades attached) getting stuck in the snow.

That’s not to say the weather outside is nothing to be concerned about, though. It’s ugly, and there was a weather alert earlier. Not that I understand the reasoning, except perhaps to convince people to not travel, but express trains were set to begin running local stops at 5:45 PM. Some dude even got on TV and said to not go outside if at all possible. That should go without saying anyway. Nothing says fun like getting blasted in the face with ice and snow, right? Better to hang at the house with a hot cup of coffee.

So, I took these photos:

Hopefully, the city is able to stay on top of the snow build-up, or people might be sad on their way to work tomorrow.